"Are you Cousin Silas?" A person interested in using a song of his, released on my netlabel, for a non-commercial project asked me. "No", I replied "but I am probably his number one fan."
It is with this in mind that I write the liner notes for the release of Complex Silence 28, an album that I was honored to do the album design for (using a painting by the fantastic visual artist and mutual friend Ade Hodges) and one I've only just listened to because I wanted to keep it a surprise for release day.
I am a huge fan of Cousin Silas. I have been since I heard his "Ballardian Landscapes" released on the seminal Earth Monkey Productions netlabel (my initial introduction into the world of netlabels). I was blown away then and have yet to be disappointed all these years later. I have worked with him on the cover art for a number of his releases and have, in fact, set up my own netlabel, weareallghosts, with the express purpose of releasing his music. Now that's another story for another day, but needless to say I am fond of Cousin Silasâ music.
It was then a great pleasure to approach Complex Silence 28 and listen to Cousin Silasâ second contribution to what is an awesome series by Phil and Thomas.
I was not disappointed. Cousin Silas has created wonderfully atmospheric music that would happily and easily soundtrack a plethora of futuristic sci-fi landscapes. Vast, empty, formless, silent landscapes. Spaces in time and space, so to speak. He has captured in sound the way we used to see space, not as dystopian brokenness or as bland tyrannical sameness, but a wide open expanse of opportunity for exploration and adventure. Almost Lovecraftian in texture. A rich and varied plurality of experience full of light and hope as well as darkness and despair. For example, listening to "Time Dilates" makes me think of "At the Mountains of Madness".
Cousin Silas' sound pictures are truly phenomenal. He really can and does shape the listener's imagination. Sharing with them his vision whilst simultaneously immersing them in all-encompassing sound. Letting them bob along on the ebb and flow of his soundscapes. This is headphone music, best enjoyed when distractions are at a minimum. Music to be soaked up and savored, like an aural hot bubble-bath after a long day of manual labor.
I guess that's the crux for me of why I love Cousin Silas' music so much. Not only does he inspire and help me to dream but his music gives me the space and time out to dream. He helps me let go. To escape the worries and pressures of my life, and gain solace in another world. In this case (as described above) a wide open expanse of opportunity for exploration and adventure.
I am forever in his debt for his music, and Complex Silence 28 is an excellent and worthy addition not only to his canon of work but to the Complex Silence series itself.
I cannot write liner notes without acknowledging the work of Phil Wilkerson and Thomas Park, chaps whose contribution to the ambient music scene is both extensive and valued. I am grateful for the opportunity they have given to Cousin Silas and know he is too. Their generosity feeds the generosity of Cousin Silas and his generosity in turn feeds them.
As Lewis Hyde writes in his seminal book "The Gift":
"People with a sense of the gift not only speak of it as food to eat but also feed it. The nourishment flows both ways. When we have fed the gift with our labor and generosity, it grows and feeds us in return. The gift and its bearers share a spirit which is kept alive by its motion among them, and which in turn keeps them both alive."
I am proud to work with people who have this sense of the gift. I believe Cousin Silas has done Complex Silence and the values that underpin their series true justice. He has rewarded their faith in him and their foresight with a release that will, in my opinion, stand the test of time as one of their best releases.
But then I am biased. I am Cousin Silas' number one fan.
headphonaught + weareallghosts + circumambient
This release is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution - NonCommercial - NoDerivs 3.0 Unported license. Copyright 2012 Cousin Silas. Cover paintings: Ade Hodges. Photography and Graphic Design: Thomas Mathie. Release Logistics: Thomas Park. Learn more about Cousin Silas at their website. Follow the Complex Silence series at the website or at the twitter feed. The Complex Silence Series welcomes musical contributions from artists wishing to explore these or similar abstract ambient themes. Contact Phillip Wilkerson for more details or drop your sample / demo tracks in his Soundcloud dropbox.